Berlin - A Berlin church celebrated a service with a "Star Wars" theme Sunday, with lightsaber-wielding pastors preaching parallels between Christianity and the blockbuster movie series to costumed parishioners.
The Zion Church in the Mitte district seized on last week's world premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", which is breaking box office records, as a universal parable of good and evil.
A few hundred people turned out for the event at the Protestant house of worship four days before Christmas, at a time when many German churches are struggling to keep up attendance, membership and donations.
An AFP photographer captured images of churchgoers decked out as popular characters from the space epic perched on wooden pews including a few Darth Vaders and a Chewbacca. Pastors-in-training Ulrike Garve, 29, and Lucas Ludewig, 30, brandished red toy lightsabers as they delivered their sermon from the altar.
"The more we talked about the films, the more parallels we saw with Christian traditions," Garve said in a statement ahead of the event.
"We want to explain these parallels to visitors of the church service." Ludewig said he took special inspiration from the Bible passage Romans 12:21: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Local press reports said the church organist Martin Klemenz played a thunderous rendition of the movies' "da-da-dadada-daaaa-da" theme as clips from the earlier films played on a large screen.
Garve stressed the series' message of the possibility of salvation after a rejection of the Dark Side, the daily B.Z. reported.
"The Force Awakens", the seventh movie in the series, has grossed an estimated US$517 million (S$730 million) internationally since it opened overseas on Wednesday, setting records in Britain, Norway and Sweden as well as Germany.
The film raked in an estimated US$120.5 million on Friday, its first full day in US and Canadian cinemas, setting an industry record, according to Disney.